Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Laying Workers, Dying Hive

We went back in to the Sylvia hive today, after several weeks of neglect and general "hoping it will sort itself out because between work and vacation I don't have time."

There were very few bees, almost no brood, and far too many drones in terms of percentages. They're the big fellows with the big eyes that you can see in almost every picture.

It turns out that we were indeed without a viable queen, and while the general population began to die of "old age"---I think summer bees live about six weeks, at least one of the workers decided she would try to be queen and lay some eggs.

While a worker can indeed lay eggs, because the eggs are not fertilized, they all become drones.

With the hive full of nectar and increasingly devoid of bees that work, I'm now looking at how to save the frames for a new colony of bees next spring. I've posted a question on the WNCbees forum about what to do with all these frames covered in nectar.

The white capped cells in the second picture from the top and the picture right above this line are honey. Bless their hearts, they did their best. I have some general guilt about not intervening when it was early enough to do some good....but the demands of time and my complete lack of experience conspired against the needs of Sylvia.
On the bright side...delving in this hive repeatedly has helped me get over my initial heebie-jeebies of working the bees. And I've been motivated by their crisis to read, read, read and learn much more about how to help my other hive and my future bees. I hope to become a bee keeper instead of a bee haver.

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